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By Vincent Flanders, ACCESS 88 Staff

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(From Access 88: The Magazine for Wang System Users, February 1988. Copyright © 1988 Data Base Publications.)

Wang OFFICE, introduced in 1985, has sold 5,500 licenses, making it one of the more widely used office automation products on the minicomputer and mainframe markets. According to International Data Corporation's April 1987 Report, Review and Forecast: Integrated Office Systems, 1986, Wang OFFICE is virtually tied with DEC's All-in-One and Data General's CEO for first place in the number of office systems installed, yet leads in the number of units shipped.

Wang OFFICE is a set of integrated office applications -- including Mail, time management, Directory Services and a number of personal productivity tools -- that allow timely access and information sharing within a local system and across far-flung networks. But the influence of the product carries further, says Jackie Appel, Wang marketing manager for OFFICE Applications. "Wang OFFICE is an integration environment and architecture that forms the basis for all Wang information systems. It's a strategic corporate product. When new products are introduced, such as the Wang Integrated Image System (WIIS), they're incorporated into the Wang OFFICE fold."

Although OFFICE runs on the OIS, Alliance, Wang PC/APC and various PC clones through terminal emulation, all networked systems require at least one VS connection. Announcements at the October 1987 International Society of Wang User's (ISWU) conference make it clear that future versions of OIS and Alliance OFFICE will be maintenance releases only (see "ISWU Report," ACCESS, January 1987, page 37). Because the VS is Wang's flagship product and the major platform for OFFICE, our Special Report focuses on VS OFFICE.

Evolution in the office.

OFFICE has evolved from a simple proprietary mail delivery service into a complex environment integrated with other mail delivery products, such as IBM's DISOSS and PROFS, DEC's All-in-One and the mail services Telex and Teletex. Future support for X.400, the international mail delivery standard, is planned. Current Wang software supported includes the VS Distributed Management Facility, MemoryBase, IIS Word Processing, VS WP Plus, OFFICE File Manager, OFFICE Application Programming Interface, VS OFFICE/DISOSS Gateway, Wang/PROFS Gateway, InterOFFICE, VS Graphics Facility, Wang OFFICE Voice Mail and CHARTER.

Appel says integration with the Wang-defined "Six Technologies" --Data Processing, Word Processing, Image Processing, Voice Processing, Networking and Human Factors -- is already a reality. "That's what Wang OFFICE provides today. Look at the kinds of information you can combine in a package without much effort; that's a very powerful tool in an office environment. Wang offers integration with our voice messaging system so you can include voice messages; you can retrieve them on a handset. You can send images, PC DOS files (using OFFICE 2.05, to be released the first quarter of 1988), word-processing documents and graphs. In one application, you have the mechanism for combining virtually all forms of information."

But the maturation of OFFICE is far from complete in a world of accelerating and complex connectivity demands. "One of the most significant issues is integrating large networked systems," says Appel. "This integration is not just company-wide, but extends into the rest of the business world. Giving users a mechanism to communicate with their buyers and customers -- that's one of the driving forces within the next two to three years."

Today, companies use Wang OFFICE to connect employees into their own proprietary electronic mail network. In the future, these same companies will connect to other companies' electronic mail networks. Although Wang would like to be the sole vendor of these systems, Appel says it isn't likely. "That's why our gateway products are increasingly important to us. We can provide integrated linkages into other OFFICE systems and other mail systems. You can form a comprehensive network with Wang OFFICE as the backbone, yet not be limited to Wang OFFICE.

"As we proceed into the next generation of offices, what's required is more integration, applications and exchange of information. For that to happen, there has to be some foundation architecture, designed to operate in all environments. We plan to make it happen."